For those people who have ever wanted to play god, this may be your big chance. Afterlife makes you the Demiurge of a planet, with complete control over how your heaven and hell develop. For good measure, you can also influence events on the planet which sits between your heaven and hell.
Afterlife is a world-building simulation game. You start at year 0 with some money and your two advisors Jasper Wormwood and Aria Goodhalo. You need to build efficient and effective heaven and hell. (Efficiency being a relative matter. Roads that are good for heaven aren't necessarily the best for hell.) There are some tutorials that you can watch, nicely separated into several bits of related content that will help teach you the basics of building heaven and hell. Of course, this is a simulation so there's a lot more that you'll need to discover.
The game also has a lot of complexity. Buildings in the afterlife can and must evolve. However to do so, they need the right conditions. There needs to be a balance for *each* fate structure. Temporary souls need things to do, permanent souls need more things to think about. Vibes close to the building must be good (heaven) or bad (hell). You need to tap into sufficient power sources to enable the buildings to change.
When starting Afterlife, you may choose to either begin an easy, medium or difficult game, or you may load one of four pre-built scenerios. The scenerios are developed games where you have to fix the problems left by the previous demiurge. You should wait until you've developed some degree of proficiency with the game before you load the scenerios.
Read the manual and do the tutorials to start with. Start small and learn to use the graphview and the mapview. These are vital tools for helping you find problem areas before they get to be serious problems. The graphview shows you information like the numbers of angels and devils that you have, what they are doing, how many of them are imported and how many of them need to commute. The graphview also shows you how close your fate structures are to being full and allows you to see how many pennies you are making and how many you are spending. The mapview shows you important information such as what structures are empowered, what vibes exist where and relative effieciencies in either heaven or hell.
One of the most important things you need to track is the balance of souls in your fate structures. If the structures are unbalanced, they will no longer evolve. To balance the structures, you can individually check the structures and set a balance or use the macromanager to set all the balances. The first option can get tedious for a large heaven or hell, the second can get very *very* expensive.
Planetview shows you what is happening on the planet. You can influence the belief structures of your planet, the technologies and toward good or evil for all of the fate structures of the afterlife.
Don't spend all or even most of your money in the early stages of the game. It takes a long time to evolve your afterlife to the point were you'll be making a profit. Even the game manual stresses the point that it takes 1000 years to begin seeing a profit on your afterlife. The key is to start small, get those buildings to evolve and build slowly.
You can lose this game. If you stay in debt too long, if your workers riot and destroy heaven or hell, or if the planet destroys itself in nuclear war, you have lost the game. However, there is no 'winning' to the game.
You'll need training centers to train your own set of angels and demons. The imported variety are really quite expensive. But once you have enough homegrown angels or demons, you should turn the training centers off. The gripe is that even with the training centers off, I still get the message about turning them off for some years.
There should be an easy way for you to find certain kinds of buildings. The training centers, the banks, and karma stations should be easily findable amongst the large and growing afterlife. Training centers so you can turn them off and on, the small banks are easily hidden by almost anything else (and when you want a loan, you want it now) and karma stations can be tricky to find when it is time to upgrade them
Aria complains that siphons aren't connected to enough structures in heaven when the real problem is that there are no longer enough siphons to keep heaven properly empowered. That one seems to be a genuine bug (albeit quite small) in the program.
One last gripe, I got this program as part of the LucasArts archive 3. The book shows the controls as small b&w pictures. It can be very difficult to see this pictures and match them to the controls on your screen. Perhaps the original release of Afterlife had a bigger manual, or showed those pictures in color. As it is, this is a bit odd.
This is a serious simulation game, which means that you will have to spend a lot of time developing your strageties and preparing for those random events such as parts of heaven being transported to hell in a basket. Three levels of difficulty should be sufficient to keep most people busy.
Strategy world building games aren't my usual style, but this one seems very nice. It certainly had me going well into the night one night with "I should be able to make a profit, in just a few more years."
The game on startup warned that it was optimised for 256 colours. I didn't reset my computer and I never once noticed a problem. Also, I love the random messages that they threw into the loading game bar. Some of them are just so cute (Love is never having to say 68% loaded. Downloading credit card information 87% loaded.)
Generally speaking, I prefer Dungeon Keeper to this game. Dungeon Keeper has levels and goals for you to reach in each level. I'm not much into playing games where there is no particular goal at all. Still, it is a good game, and should keep you entertained for some time.